Tag Archives: Jane Milburn

Sew it Again an award-winner

Social Media Award winner Jane Milburn with co-ordinator Edwina Close and Rural Press Club president Brendan Egan

Jane Milburn with awards co-ordinator Edwina Close and Rural Press Club president Brendan Egan

It is fantastic to have this work recognised by journalistic peers. Sew it Again was judged Social Media category winner in the Excellence in Rural Journalism 2015 Awards run by the Rural Press Club of Queensland.

The judges comments were: Jane Milburn’s Sew It Again project engaged with the community, had a call to action and was transformative. It actually made a difference in the world.

I am a natural fibre champion and believe that dressing is an agricultural act, unless you prefer synthetic fibre clothing derived from petroleum, coal or gas.

My work has a clear connection to agriculture through its focus on natural-fibre clothing, which now only makes up 1/3 of apparel consumption (see table below). The other 2/3 of clothing are made of synthetic fibres, which 2011 research shows are shedding microplastic particles into the wastewater stream with every wash and these particles are entering the food chain.

This is the message I am now sharing at Textile Beat workshops and talks on slow fashion, natural fibres and dressing with conscience – consistent with my goal to travel the world inspiring creative upcycling of natural fibres.

World Apparel Fiber use

RPC journalism award winners with Minister Bill Byrne

Congratulations to the other award winners, photographed with Queensland Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries Bill Byrne, including overall winner the ABC’s Marty McCarthy

Sew 290 – Sewing in the 21st century

Hayley wears upcycled white linenEveryone has a unique journey through life. Good things and bad things happen to each of us – and all we can do is make the most of the opportunities that come our way.

My opportunity this year is to spend time every day refashioning and upcycling existing clothing – demonstrating a creative way of dressing that doesn’t involve always buying new stuff. I’m working through my stash of op-shop found natural-fibre clothing, playing with ideas to reshape and resew them.

I’m not trying to become a clothing designer and I don’t pretend to have fashion qualifications – I’m coming at this from the perspective of conserving natural resources in our finite world. I believe refashioning existing clothing also enables sewing – a dying art in most communities – to be a useful life-skill for the 21st century now that it is uneconomic for women in developed nations to sew clothing from scratch.  Continue reading

Sew 273 – Cut frills from silk rejects

Jane Milburn wears upcycledRefashioning clothing you already have instead of buying new is what I, Jane Milburn, am doing every day this year as a mindful, resourceful and purposeful project demonstrating sustainable ways to dress by upcycling unworn natural-fibre garments.

To create Sew 273, I took a plain black silk skirt with frill hem and randomly altered the hemline before embellishing it with fringing cut from two butter-cup yellow unworn silk garments – a jacket and a striped shirt.

To begin, I cut on the diagonal across the bottom of the skirt to create a more interesting sloping hemline. I cut the bottom frill from the offcut and stitched it to the new hemline.  I then cut a strip from all the finished edges (including buttons, button-holes, collar) of the silk jacket to create a long and continuous hemmed silk length which is about 4cm wide, and zigzagged it in place above the bottom black frill.  Continue reading

Sew 261 – Wear your own sparkle

Upcycled wool skirt and boleroYour sparkle is your uniqueness. Wear your sparkle and be the best version of yourself you can be said Julie Cross, one of the many inspirational speakers at Queensland Rural Regional and Remote Women’s Network conference in Charters Towers.

We make our own footprints in life. If we place more importance on the opinions of others than our own, we give away our power.

So inspiring to be part the QRRRWN network full of women doing amazing things – including four fellows from the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation. Georgie Somerset, below left, the outgoing QRRRWN president. Cathy McGowan MP, Catherine Marriott (wearing a Textile Beat history skirt) and Jane Milburn.  Continue reading

Sew 259 – Streamlining a favourite

Jane Milburn by Fiona LakeThis year I’m on a creative journey that integrates my professional expertise with a desire for sustainability, ecological health and wellbeing – that is woven with threads of childhood, thrift, empowerment and a love of nature.

My goal is to travel the world inspiring creative upcycling of natural fibre clothing. And I’m working to achieve that goal in five steps, with this Sew it Again year being step three.

That may sound structured but it’s a fluid process – I’m writing the script as I go along, drawing on universal intelligence and fresh input, ideas and opportunities that emerge along the way. Continue reading

Sew 183 – Yay, half way post

Audrey in her history skirtOn a young woman’s cloth shopping bag I recently noticed this saying: I am not a shopaholic, I am helping the economy.  Well, at least it was a recyclable bag even if the message is questionable.

We have been conditioned to believe that buying more stuff is good for us and society when clearly that’s not the case. We live in a world with finite resources and it known that over-consumption on all levels is impacting our health in obvious as well as subtle ways. But some people make money out of encouraging over consumption.

As one gets older, and hopefully wiser, it is interesting to reflect on our purpose in life and what we might do (beyond purchasing) to help make the world a better place. Continue reading

Sew 169 – Gorgeous zero-waste skirt

Creative reuse of waste garmentsAt a global level people are beginning to question the way we dress, where clothing comes from, and whether it is made with ethical and sustainable processes.

As there is rising interest in home cooking and food growing for health and wellbeing, there is a pressing need to rethink our approach to textiles and fashion. Fast food and fast fashion are convenient – but not necessarily sustainable or good for us and our planet.

My model for a social and environmental shift includes empowering individuals to reimagine and recreate their own wardrobe collection by creatively chopping and changing existing clothing to suit themselves.

Instead of global generic bland brand dressing, this shift involves local, individual unfashionistas branding themselves through sustainable, ethical eco-clothing as part of a REfashion Revolution turning waste and reject clothing into something to wear with pride. Continue reading

Sew 167 – Skirt with upcycle history

History Skirt by FayThis history skirt may have a few minor imperfections but there is none other exactly like it in the world. Created by its owner Fay, it is based on an original concept developed by Jane Milburn as a way of reusing cast-off clothing and waste textiles to make garments with stories to tell about where they came from.

This skirt was made with skills and energy invested Fay at a Biloela Arts Council upcycling workshop she organised in central Queensland which saw me (Jane) fly-in and fly-out this past weekend with support from a Regional Arts Developing Fund grant.

How exciting to be reusing materials that would otherwise languish in cupboards or eventually be dumped to create something unique and wearable that can be endlessly patched, mended or adapted further – adding even more character to the story of how it came to be. We individual unfashionistas interested in sustainable, ethical eco-clothing are bringing on the REfashion Revolution turning waste and reject clothing into something we wear with pride. Continue reading

Sew 149 – Serena resews trousers

Serena wears upcycled culottesThe Sew it Again project is not about Jane Milburn resewing adventures, it is about inspiring and enabling others to relook at clothing that already exists in their wardrobes and refashioning it for a second life.

Serena Williams is an early adopter. Having bought jeans-to-skirt convo Sew 31 at the Reverse Emporium Love Upcycled exhibition, she got in touch about refashioning a wool suit that was no longer suitable for her partner’s corporate role.

We had sew much fun together, although she made me wield the scissors. Tellingly, Serena felt a twinge in her chest as I cut into the fine wool suiting fabric. It is a little scary slicing up something that still has intrinsic value but if it is not being worn as is, the risk is not high.

Serena resews

Continue reading

Sew 100 – Bring on the buttons

Upcycle using buttons to hide marksButtons are useful, decorative, sentimental, collectable, fun … and they cover a multitude of sins when upcycling.

In a long-ago Sunday Mail magazine article (23 November 1997), I wrote about the magic buttons and the stamp of individuality they bring to garments. The story included a north Queensland grazier who was making buttons from timber on her property to generate income during hard times. The buttons were made by pruning branches from native hardwoods on the Charters Towers property that were 1-2cm in diameter, dry them for weeks to harden the sap, cut them into circles and treat with durable varnish to keep the bark in place and make them washable. Sunday Mail story on buttons Continue reading